Opening jitters come into play for the Growling Tigers as well as the Green Archers in their first meeting for Season 76. Both of them started slow with points only coming in spurts. The main story for this game is: Jeron Teng falters while his older brother, Jeric, soar high with 23 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals. With the help of a double-double (17 pts, 10 rebs), all-around performance by his Cameroonian teammate, Karim Abdul, UST indeed drew the first blood at a 63-58 win over DLSU.
All throughout the game, UST seems to be afraid to attack the basket whenever they are on their half court set. Stats shows that almost half of their free throw shots happened in the overtime period, this was when DLSU troopers were forced to give up their fouls to stop the clock. Tigers tallied a total of 23 FT attempts at 73.9% shooting, 10 of them were given in the OT period wherein they were able to convert eight of them.
Karim Abdul’s costly travelling infractions in the opening quarter took away UST’s rhythm and this also contributed to their inability to establish their half court set. Good thing Tigers where able to find their groove in the second quarter, be it on offense, defense, or rebounding. They were able to convert 47.1% of their field goal attempts, almost 15% better than their first quarter FG%. An astonishing turnaround that happened in the second period was that when España-based cagers were able to limit their opponent to only two field goals conversion for the entire quarter. To add to that, UST were also able to recover in the rebounding department which was dominated by DLSU in the previous period. Combining all these resulted to a 28-20 halftime score in favor of the Growling Tigers.
In the third quarter, the two teams matched each other’s production in almost every department tallying a score of 40-34, UST still on the driver’s seat. When the fourth quarter came, Archers committed six TOs – two of which at the expense of their star player Jeron Teng but UST failed to capitalize on this. It’s just that DLSU put themselves in deep trouble by committing a total of 24 TOs. As tweeted by the frustrated Miakka Lim, co-host on FTW in GMA News, “Can’t win with 24TOs. That is all.” To add to that, a heart-breaking backcourt violation in overtime (OT) pretty much sealed the game for UST. Ironically, despite of UST’s inability to take advantage on DLSU’s TOs, their four-point winning advantage can be virtually attributed to those TO conversions by Jeric in the fourth quarter (after a Jeron Offensive Foul) and Aljon Mariano’s free throws made (after LA Revilla’s backcourt infraction) in the dying seconds 0f the overtime.
Reviewing Keys to the Game
- Familiarity of the coaches and players. Archers silenced all their critiques, me included, with regards to their coaching reshuffle. As early as now, DLSU showed that players and coaches are in sync. This was evident in a well-executed end game plays, which were drawn and designed by their newly appointed head coach – Juno Sauler.
- Dominance inside the paint. As mentioned in my pregame article for this game, inside presence will be critical. Tigers were able to survive and eventually win the game without making a three-point shot (this is the first time that I heard UST going home with 0% beyond the arc). With their three-point shooting totally in disarray, Tigers were forced to dig deep inside the paint. This is where UST relied on their one-two punch; Teng doing the damage at the mid-range (MID) and Abdul ruling at the rim (ATR). Teng and Abdul contribution in the inside game of UST resulted to a high ATR% and MID% that eventually compensated their ugly 3PT%.
- Value of Possession. Surprisingly, Tigers were able to protect the ball better than DLSU – who has a reliable point guard in the name of LA Revilla. Clark Bautista did a great job in manning the point for UST, a huge shoe that he should fill in due to the departure of Jeric Fortuna who spent his last season last year. The TO percentage (TOV%) of the Tigers is slightly better than the Archers’ primary because of their 24 turnovers. Aside from the TOV%, the Tigers also dominated the Team stats that entails how team value a possession. Their greatest advantage is evident in the FT Rating (FTR) and offensive Ratings (RTG) department. High FTR and RTG means high efficiency in converting FT and excellent scoring per possession rating.
Despite winning this game, UST should be wary of their performance. They started flat and failed to instill their inside presence early on. Worst, their three point shooting is unacceptable. Their team defense is not that sharp and pin point. If not for DLSU’s too many unforced errors, the result of this game could have been the other way around. All these concerns must be addressed if they want to survive their next opponent, Adamson Falcons, who is expected to perform well in this season.
Contrary to the many Archers fan’s concerns, DLSU actually performed well in their first game (well except for their TOs and FT%). Players didn’t seemed lost specially at the end game. Forcing an extra period with last year’s finalist and considerably with an intact roster depicts that they are doing just about okay. Once they learn to take care of that ball, convert more FTs, coupled that with a good Jeron’s game then they could go a long way.